That's a Wrap

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By Diana Budds / Published by Dwell
For Vitsœ, the 621 side table and its packaging reflect the brand’s ethic.

There’s an old German saying that translates to "Something has a hand and foot"—meaning it is thoroughly thought-out and developed. Vitsœ, the company Niels Vitsœ and Otto Zapf founded in 1959 to bring Dieter Rams’s designs to market, embodies that philosophy, from its furniture to its packaging and its promotional materials (which often feature a hand and foot symbol designed by Wolfgang Schmidt). "In our experience,   packaging holds more importance in communicating our service rather than our products," says Mark Adams, Vitsœ’s managing director."It should speak of care and attention to detail."

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“The banana peel [is thoughtful packaging]. It protects, it changes color to tell you it’s ready to be eaten, and it’s completely biodegradable. Well done, nature.” —Mark Adams, managing director at Vitsœ

When Vitsœ introduced the 621 side table in 1962, Rams and Schmidt codesigned its box. The cardboard wrapped snugly around the table’s form, and a carrying handle made it easy to transport. For the 2014 reissue, the company simplified the design and made it more consistent with the rest of the present-day packaging. Vitsœ’s designers filmed company employees unpacking the tables so they could identify potential problems and develop solutions. Made from recycled corrugated cardboard, the new box features a form and approach that mimics the original. Held together by a clever series of folds and tabs, the box conforms to the table’s shape and needs no tape or staples, making it simple to reuse. "It conveys care, thoughtfulness, and accessibility," says Adams. "The 621 can be picked up from our shops and carried home. And a round cutout allows you to choose the correct color without the need for a label." There’s less type on the new box, but all text is rendered in Univers font, which Vitsœ has been using for more than 50 years. On its top, a lone crimson hand symbol points to the first tab someone should open when unpacking the table. "Good packaging is self-explanatory, robust, and reusable," Adams says.